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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Use a RACI Chart to Normalize Communication Management

They say that every organization has to deal with people, processes and technology in order to get its work done.

I find that getting people to agree on a single course of action is frequently very hard.

It is easier to make changes when you're "forced to" by the introduction of a new technology.

The problem with that is, it's a drastic solution and people adopt systems at widely varying rates of both interest and proficiency.

If they can't or won't understand the system, they will work around it, or find another one altogether.

Process changes are a potential middle ground. People may tend to disagree ideologically, but they generally have a rational attitude when it comes to being more efficient.

For that reason a proven and useful project management tool called the RACI chart is helpful when it comes to managing communication.

Here's how it works:

1. Develop a list of major activities associated with communication. Typically these include, at a minimum, planning, writing/designing, and distributing to specific audiences.

2. Develop a list of people or groups (functions) that touch communication in some way. Again typically these will include senior leadership, subject matter experts, and a dedicated communication staff.

3. Come to a consensus about who should do what, as follows:

- Responsible: The group or groups that actually do the work.

- Accountable: The single person or group that can get in trouble if it's done wrong.

- Consulted: The people or groups whose input you need before acting.

- Informed: The people or groups who need to know what's going on.

Then you make a spreadsheet.

- Column A has the activities.

- Columns B through, let's say F, have the functions as headers.

- The cell under each column gets filled in with the role (remember you can only use "A" once per activity, and a function can be both responsible and accountable).

You can find plenty of examples by searching for "RACI Chart" images online.

From real world experience, I can report that RACI charts are great. They are simple but powerful ways of making sure that everybody has a seat at the table, without having the entire room sink under their weight.

Unlike complicated, heavy-handed technologies, process tools are a very human-oriented focus for change, risk mitigation, and continuous quality improvement.

Adopted by guided consensus, the RACI chart circumvents impossible dysfunction, and in doing so helps you to get stuff done.

All opinions my own.